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LFA champ Andrea Lee returns tonight at LFA 23, but why isn't she on 'TUF 26'?

Officials say 14 fighters – 14! – turned down a fight tonight with LFA champ Andrea Lee. So why didn’t she just take a slot on “The Ultimate Fighter 26”?

Lee (7-2), the inaugural and reigning LFA women’s flyweight champion, co-headlines tonight’s LFA 23 event against challenger Jamie Morton (4-3), which airs on AXS TV from Bossier City Hotel Casino & Hotel in Bossier, La.

Morton has lost two straight – she was on the receiving end of a brutal Sabina Mazo head-kick KO earlier this year – but she was willing to fight Lee when so many others apparently weren’t.

So why didn’t Lee take a spot on the cast of “TUF 26,” the latest installment of the UFC’s long-running reality series – one that crowns the UFC’s first 125-pound female champion and would guarantee the 28-year-old “KGB” would have no trouble securing matchups?

“Well, I chose not to do it,” she told AXS TV’s Phoenix Carnevale.

More specifically, an injury and an aversion to reality TV also factored in to her decision.

“At the time, I had a back injury, and I just thought that it was probably better for me not to go to the ‘TUF’ house,” Lee said. “I felt like I was already established enough that I didn’t need the ‘TUF’ house to get me into the UFC.

” … I’m scheduled to fight again for (Invicta FC) before the end of the year, and I’m looking forward to that. So hopefully at the beginning of next year y’all will see me in the UFC. Who knows?”

Of course, sharing a house with 15 or so other fighters and possible opponents – on reality TV – wasn’t exactly a selling point either.

“Not my thing,” Lee said. ” … I think I need my time, and I need my space to prepare and get mentally ready for all of my fights.”

As for Morton, who’s likely to be a significant underdog when the odds open today, she simply wouldn’t pass up an opportunity so many others did.

“In this MMA game, you can not be afraid,” she said. “It’s sad that everybody missed a great opportunity. This is a wonderful opportunity – win, lose or draw – because I get to fight an awesome competitor, and I get my name out there too. So all of those other girls? They lost an awesome opportunity.”

Check out the full interviews above.

And for more on LFA 23, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

(Photo credit: Mike Jackson of mikethetruth.com)

LFA 23 is live on AXS TV tonight at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT). Make sure to tweet along using #LFA23. AXS TV airs new, live fights almost every Friday night in 2017. Find AXS TV on your TV right here: www.axs.tv/fights.

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